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The EU, animal research and the Nobel Prize

Editorial Team October 30th, 2012 No Comments

So, unless you’ve been living in a cave without wi-fi you’ll probably have heard that the European Union has be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The EU also celebrated last week when Professor Serge Haroche, the recipient of a European Research Council (ERC) grant, picked up the Nobel Prize for Physics. Europe plans to increase ERC funding from €7.5 billion to €13 billion from 2012 to help “the very best researchers to conduct pioneering research across Europe”.

But what about health research? Well, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine went to researchers from Britain and Japan for their work on reprogramming mature cells into stem cells.

They basically found ways to trick cells into reverting back to their immature days when they had the potential to become other kinds of cells. It’s like they turned ‘adult’ cells which were set in their ways into teenagers that can become anything they want if they are given the right environment.

The point is that this work was done using frogs and mice.

In fact, over the past 40 years, every single Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – with one exception in 1983 when a plant geneticist collected the award – has depended on animal studies.

As if that wasn’t enough, this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry went to US scientists whose work in genetically-altered mice could lead to new and better medicines.

We’ve been asking you what the future of animal research is in the EU. The question now is whether waving goodbye to animal research would mean farewell to Nobel Prizes in Medicine

Is Europe content to be a beacon for peace and a dab hand at physics while leaving excellence in medicine to scientists in the US and Asia?

Or could future Nobel Prizes go to breakthroughs in non-animal models for medical research? Would that be the kind of game-changing incentive needed to make a giant leap towards the 3Rs?

Share your thoughts!

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